Preparing gefilte fish from scratch no longer seems so daunting, with food processors and the wide availability of a variety of gleaming fresh fish fillets besides the noble triad of carp pike, and whitefish.
Except for the broth. That still requires real commitment.
You’ll need bones, of course, so you will have to befriend a fishmonger who will remember to save the trimmings. If you don’t have a high-tech air filtration system, you can resign yourself to a kitchen (and perhaps living and bedrooms too) smelling for several days like old Marseilles without the charms of Panisse and Marius. Not to mention constantly skimming all that fish foam.
Which is why I sometimes prefer to use a simple but intensely flavored vegetable stock made of wine and aromatic vegetables like fennel that complement the fish beautifully.
Forget the fish jelly though: no bones, no gelatin. I don’t miss it—it always seemed kind of a food oxymoron anyway. But the broth is delicious, and if enough is leftover, use it to slow-braise potatoes for an intriguing accompaniment to simple grilled or poached fish. Oded Schwartz calls the recipe “fish potatoes” in his book, In Search of Plenty: cover quartered peeled potatoes with the broth, add knobs of butter, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer slowly until most of the liquid is evaporated and t the potatoes are brown and fragrant. Serve hot with sour cream.
Prepare the broth: in a large, wide, heavy saucepan or
Make the fish balls: add the salmon, sole, and garlic cloves to the onions and carrots in the food processor. Chop fine, using the pulse motion, but don’t puree. Put the mixture in a chopping bowl or on a chopping board. Using a hand-chopper or cleaver, work in the eggs, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. (Hand-chopping at this point incorporates air into the mixture, making it lighter and fluffier than pulsing in the food processor.) Stir in the ground almonds.
It’s a good idea to do a test for seasoning. Poach
Prepare the ginger-beet horseradish: stir the ginger into the horseradish, adding more or less according to preference. Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Bring the strained broth to a gentle boil. Wetting your hands with cold water, if necessary, form the fish mixture into 16 ovals, using about
To serve, line platters or individual plates with lettuce, endive, or radicchio. Arrange two ovals of the chilled, drained fish attractively on top and accompany with the ginger-beet horseradish.
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.